Beta cloth

Apollo pressure suit before (left), and after the addition of Beta cloth (right)
Pete Conrad in the Skylab shower in 1973 behind the Skylab shower enclosure which was made of Beta cloth stretched between rings.
Micrometeoroid impacts in Beta cloth
Beta cloth with lunar dust

Beta cloth is a type of fireproof silica fiber cloth used in the manufacture of Apollo/Skylab A7L space suits, the Apollo Thermal Micrometeoroid Garment, the McDivitt Purse,[1] and in other specialized applications.

Beta cloth consists of fine woven silica fiber, similar to fiberglass. The resulting fabric does not burn, and melts only at temperatures exceeding 650 °C (1,200 °F). To reduce its tendency to crease or tear when manipulated, and to increase durability, the fibers are coated with Teflon.


The tight weave of Beta cloth makes it more resistant to atomic oxygen exposure.[2] Its ability to resist atomic oxygen exposure means it is commonly used as the outer-most layer of multi-layer insulation for space; it was used on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.[3]

It was incorporated into NASA space suits after the deadly 1967 Apollo 1 launch pad fire, in which the astronauts' nylon suits burned through. After the fire, NASA demanded any potentially flammable materials be removed from both the spacecraft and space suits. Beta cloth was developed by a Manned Spacecraft Center team led by Frederick S. Dawn and including Matthew I. Radnofsky working with the Owens-Corning and DuPont companies.

Where additional wear resistance was needed, external patches of Chromel-R metallic cloth were used.[4]

Beta cloth was used as the material for the Skylab shower enclosure.[5]

The interior of the Space Shuttle payload bay was almost completely covered with Beta cloth.[6] This protected it while it was opened for weeks at a time in space.[7]

Beta cloth is used on the Curiosity rover.[8]

See also

  • Multi-layer insulation
  • Materials for use in vacuum


  1. ^ Lotzmann, Ulrich (2 September 2015). "Temporary Stowage Bag - McDivitt Purse". Lunar Surface Journal. Apollo 12. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  2. ^ Finckenor, M. M.; Dooling, D. (April 1999). "Multilayer Insulation Material Guidelines" (PDF). Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ "BA 500BC / CF500 F (Beta Cloth, Beta Fabric)". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  4. ^ "New Apollo is to have fireproof cabin materials and spacesuits". Popular Science. November 1967. p. 98.
  5. ^ "part3b". Retrieved 2017-01-19.
  6. ^ Finckenor, M. M.; Dooling, D. (April 1999). "Multilayer Insulation Material Guidelines" (PDF). Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ Finckenor, M. M.; Dooling, D. (April 1999). "Multilayer Insulation Material Guidelines" (PDF). Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "BA 500BC / CF500 F (Beta Cloth, Beta Fabric)". Retrieved 2018-03-04.

External links

Media files used on this page

Jute nahtlos.png
Author/Creator: SoylentGreen, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Hessian Fabric made seamless. It will serve to create a normal map in Blender.
Batik Indonesia.jpg
Author/Creator: MartijnL, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0 nl
Batik cloth purchased in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
MacLachlan hunting tartan (D. W. Stewart).svg
Author/Creator: , Licence: CC BY-SA 2.5
A representation of the Maclachlan hunting tartan. This tartan is the oldest tartan to bear the name MacLachlan. This tartan is referred to as the Old MacLachlan, MacLachlan, and Hunting MacLachlan. This sett was first published in Old & Rare Scottish Tartans by D. W. Stewart in 1893.
Thread count: Y6, W4, Bk32, G32, Y6, W4, R48.
Sources: MacLachlan Clan Tartan WR1710 MacLachlan Hunting Tartan
Astronaut Owen Garriott Performs EVA During Skylab 3 - GPN-2002-000065.jpg
Scientist-astronaut Owen K. Garriott, Skylab 3 science pilot, is seen performing an extravehicular activity at the Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM) of the Skylab space station cluster in Earth orbit, photographed with a hand-held 70mm Hasselblad camera. Garriott had just deployed the Skylab Particle Collection S149 Experiment. The experiment is mounted on one of the ATM solar panels. The purpose of the S149 experiment was to collect material from interplanetary dust particles on prepared surfaces suitable for studying their impact phenomena. Earlier during the EVA Garriott assisted astronaut Jack R. Lousma, Skylab 3 pilot, in deploying the twin pole solar shield.
40 Years Ago, Skylab Paved Way for International Space Station.jpg
As the crew of Skylab 2 departs, the gold sun shield covers the main portion of the space station. The solar array at the top was the one freed during a spacewalk. The four, windmill-like solar arrays are attached to the Apollo Telescope Mount used for solar astronomy.
Two astronauts check mobility of different types of Apollo space suits (5134456205).jpg
Author/Creator: NASA on The Commons, Licence: No restrictions

Description: Two astronauts check mobility of two different types of Apollo space suits. Astronaut James B. Irwin (on left) wears the original Block II Apollo pressure suit which the Apollo 204 Review Board recommended by changed. Astronaut John S. Bull (on right) wears the new Apollo pressure suit which incorporates changes recommended by the board. The new suit worn by Bull has an outer layer of Beta Fabric, a non-flammable fiber glass cloth.

UID: SPD-JSC-S68-15931
Skylab 2 Conrad in shower.jpg
NASA Astronaut Charles "Pete" Conrad, commander of the Skylab 2 mission, smiles after using the shower facility in the crew quarters of the Skylab Orbital Workshop. NASA photo SL2-02-162 in public domain.
Skylab 3 Close-Up - GPN-2000-001711.jpg
A close-up view of the Skylab space station photographed against an Earth background from the Skylab 3 Command/Service Module during station-keeping maneuvers prior to docking. The Ilha Grande de Gurupá area of the Amazon River Valley of Brazil can be seen below. Aboard the command module were astronauts Alan L. Bean, Owen K. Garriott, and Jack R. Lousma, who remained with the Skylab space station in Earth's orbit for 59 days. This picture was taken with a hand-held 70mm Hasselblad camera using a 100mm lens and SO-368 medium speed Ektachrome film. Note the one solar array system wing on the Orbital Workshop (OWS) which was successfully deployed during extravehicular activity (EVA) on the first manned Skylab flight. The parasol solar shield which was deployed by the Skylab 2 crew can be seen through the support struts of the Apollo Telescope Mount.
Skylab launch on Saturn V.jpg
Skylab launch on Saturn V.
03 Apollo 16 lunar surface flown strap - lunar dust coated.jpg
Author/Creator: Meteoriten-Deutschlands, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Beta cloth with original lunar dust (Apollo 16)
Apollo 11 Launch - GPN-2000-000630.jpg
The Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket launch vehicle lifts-off with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., at 9:32 a.m. EDT July 16, 1969, from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex Pad 39A.